Right before the holiday break, many of our teachers start preparing for the next semester. That means that teachers are re-arranging or tidying up their blended learning resources by tweaking their courses in Schoology, our learning management system. Our success with Schoology has been great due in large part to the automation we have set up through a sync of student roster data with PowerSchool, our school information system. However, because of our semester-based scheduling, there are often some panicked teachers who see nothing in their second-semester courses built by that sync tool. Worry not! Here’s the definitive guide I wrote for my school on how to prepare for the new semester and new year!
If you teach a yearlong course…
Teachers of freshmen, EOC courses and others will find that nothing changes since your rosters and sections in PowerSchool remain the same. No need to go through this checklist if you’re teaching a yearlong! This is not a good time to consider linking sections, by the way. If you’d like to consolidate your preps into one big section, please wait until next school year.
If you teach semester-based courses…
Semester-based courses start with a fresh Schoology course shell. Nothing is copied over automatically, so you need to set a few things up again. Second-semester sections are usually identified by being in the 50s. For example, if my first period was Section 1 in the first semester, the first period will likely be Section 51 in the second semester. Don’t worry about your content: you can use the Copy to Courses button from your S1 courses to copy common assignments/resources to your S2.
1. Save your current sections to your Resources
Many teachers have fine-tuned their organization or assignments from last year. Why re-create that content? Use the Options menu in your Course to save the entire Course to a folder in your Resources. That way, you don’t have to keep going back to the archived course next year! Tip: Always title those saves with the school year so you keep building better.
2. Find your archived Courses from last year
If you didn’t use the step above last year to Save your Course to Resources, worry not! You can find last year’s courses from the Course drop-down. Click See All and switch to the Archives tab. Once courses hit the last day of the grading period, they head into Archives. (This is also where you will find your S1 sections once S2 begins.)
3. Arrange your sections in your menu
Most teachers have re-arranged your courses to put their first semester toward the top. Now might be the time to drag those back down out of the way. Use the vertical arrows ↕ in the Courses menu to open the Reorder tool.
4. Identify your Courses with a logo and then thumbnail in the Courses menu
Many teachers use the Course logo to identify courses. Consider changing your Course logo to a textbook cover, class picture or even a large number to help tell the difference between periods in your Course drop-down.
5. Consider linking sections of the same course
Want to eliminate extra clicks when adding resources to a course? Consider linking sections at the semester so you put an item in once for all sections of the same course. Linking doesn’t prevent you from setting different due dates or publishing items a period at a time, so really this is a win-win. Click here for written how-to on Schoology’s support site. You should only link or unlink sections at the beginning of a semester or yearlong Course since student submissions may be deleted!
6. Reconfigure Schoology Gradebook and PowerSchool Sync (if applicable)
Yes, all the fine-tuning you did the first time around needs to be re-done. Fortunately, you can use the Copy Settings button in the Schoology Grade Setup tab to copy over your categories. (You’ll still need to click Hide overall and Hide grading period grades.) In the PowerSchool tab, you’ll need to check the two boxes on the Configuration page and re-match your categories.